FORMER Coronation Street star Julia Haworth hopes to raise awareness about a little known skin condition which leaves children unable to be hugged by their parents.

The local actress will speak about epidermolysis bullosa (EB) at a ladies lunch event tomorrow which has been organised by Debra, a charity which supports individuals and families affected by the rare condition, of which there is no cure.

It is estimated one in every 17,000 children born in the UK will have EB. Brave Rhys Williams, from Johnson Fold, suffers with the agonising condition which causes painful skin blistering and open sores.

Julia, who played Claire Peacock on the cobbles, became patron of the charity 12 years ago after watching the Channel 4 documentary The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off.

The mum-of-two said: "As a parent, all you want to do when your child is poorly is give them a big squeeze and let them know that everything will be ok. But if you have a child with EB, you can't do that. Despite this, the parents I have met are so incredible and so strong.

"I got involved with the charity when I was at Corrie and the great part of the job [acting] is hopefully I can encourage more people to learn about it, and hopefully, donate."

The ladies lunch event, which is taking place at the Midland Hotel at noon tomorrow, will also welcome Rt Hon Hazel Blears who is guest keynote speaker.

The afternoon will also feature a special auction and raffle to raise money for Debra, to help raise money and awareness for EB, which in the worst cases can be fatal.

Tickets for tomorrow's event can be bought by contacting Tony Eckersall on 07786 575512 or emailing